Santa Fe, C&O Steamers to Swap Air Pumps in ‘Win-Win’ Deal For Non-Profits

The cross-compound air compressors from Santa Fe 4-8-4 2912 in Colorado will head east to be put on Chesapeake & Ohio 2716, now being restored in Kentucky. Photo Courtesy of Kentucky Steam. 

Santa Fe, C&O Steamers to Swap Air Pumps in ‘Win-Win’ Deal For Non-Profits

By Railfan & Railroad Staff

RAVENNA, Ky. — The cross-compound air compressors of a Santa Fe 4-8-4 in Colorado will soon be heading east to be put on Chesapeake & Ohio 2-8-4 2716, which is currently being restored to operation in Kentucky, in a “win-win” deal for two non-profit groups. 

In the early 2000s, the Pueblo Locomotive & Railway Historical Society began an operational restoration of Santa Fe 2912, a Baldwin built in 1944. By 2001, the group decided to not pursue an operational restoration, but a few key components, including the air compressors, had already been restored. Since the early 2000s, the restored air compressors have been sitting on the cosmetically restored locomotive. 

Meanwhile, back east, the Kentucky Steam Heritage Corp., the non-profit restoring 2716, realized that the air compressors on their locomotive were going to need a lot of work, costing anywhere from $50,000 to $70,000. That’s when Chief Mechanical Officer Jason Sobczynski remembered the 2912 restoration and reached out to the Colorado group, now known as the Pueblo Railway Foundation. Sobczynski suggested trading the air pumps between the two locomotives and the Pueblo group agreed. Kentucky Steam will also be making a donation to the Pueblo group to cover some of the cost of restoring the compressors two decades ago. Amazingly, the air compressors on the two locomotives are identical. 

The cross-compound air compressors from Santa Fe 2912 in Colorado will go to C&O 2716 in Kentucky. Photo Courtesy of Pueblo Railway Foundation. 

“The farther we got into dismantling 2716, the more we realized that the air pumps were going to be a significant investment on both time and money,” he said. “I knew about the rebuilt compressors in Pueblo and figured we would at least inquire about a swap. Their willingness to work with us will save us a significant amount of resources, and their engine won’t undergo any cosmetic changes with the old pumps from 2716. It’s really a win-win situation for us both.”

The Pueblo Railway Foundation’s mission is to operate and preserve railroad equipment significant to southern Colorado. 

“We are excited to work with the Kentucky Steam Heritage Corporation and share components of our vintage steam locomotive static display so that the C&O 2716 can become fully operational,” said Reid Adams, an officer with the Pueblo group. “Parts and components for steam engines are hard to find and very difficult to fabricate. Therefore, it is vital for museums and rail heritage organizations across the country to collaborate and share resources to help preserve vintage equipment. The PRF and KSHC partnership demonstrates how groups can work together to preserve historic railroad artifacts.”

Kentucky Steam has been restoring 2716 since 2015. The group also owns a 40-acre former CSX Transportation yard in Estill County, Ky., where the work has been taking place. When the locomotive is completed, it is expected to travel to New England for a stay at the Naugatuck Railroad in Connecticut

This article was posted on: March 9, 2022